How To Add Lyrics To iTunes Automatically [Mac]

itunes lyricsPicture this. You’re wandering around with your iPod on and listening to something awesome, but you can’t work out what the lyrics are. Since looking up the lyrics using your phone and 3G internet would be more effort that it’s worth, you’re left wishing the lyrics were already on your iPod in that convenient “lyrics” ID3 tag. If only you’d bothered to get lyrics for all your tracks in iTunes before!

It’s not like getting lyrics into iTunes is a terribly difficult process. These days, there’s lots of sites with lyrics, plenty of programs that will enter them into iTunes for you and a bunch of handy scripts that can do it too. Just set one going and leave it to do its business. Easy! So, here’s some of the best methods you can use.

Back Up

Before you let any program or script work with iTunes, do a quick backup of your entire library folder (especially the .xml and .itl files). In new versions of iTunes you can go to File > Library > “Back up to Disc” to do this quickly.

Applications To Automatically Add Lyrics To iTunes

If you own a lot of popular music, this option might suit you just fine. Most of these applications cost a little upfront (so I won’t mention their names here) and will also change other ID3 tags for you, such as the titles, artist names, genre tags and cover art. If the thought of your other ID3 tags getting changed makes you cringe, make sure you backup before playing with these tools.

Scripts To Fetch Lyrics For iTunes

This method is free and focuses on just the lyrics ID3 tag. You’ll need to download a couple of scripts (from Dougscripts.com) and a dashboard widget to make it work perfectly.

Download these items:

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  • No Lyrics To Playlist Script – This works out which tracks in your library have no lyrics and turns them into a playlist you can use to add lyrics.
  • Needle Drop Script – This script will play each track in the playlist for a given number of seconds.
  • TunesText – This dashboard widget will fetch lyrics for any track playing in iTunes and save them to your file.

itunes lyrics

Open the DMGs and put your scripts in this folder: [Username]/Library/iTunes/Scripts. If the folder doesn’t exist then you’ll need to create it. Double-click on the TunesText dashboard widget to install it. Once everything is ready, start or re-start your iTunes.

add lyrics to itunes

To activate the scripts, look for the menu in iTunes which looks like a scroll. Click on the “No Lyrics Playlist” script first to create your playlist. This might take a while if you have a lot of tracks. If you prefer to search a subset of your tracks for tracks with no lyrics (maybe just your favourites), click on a playlist to use as a subset before running the script.

add lyrics to itunes

Start playing a track and check your dashboard to ensure TunesText is running.

add lyrics to itunes

When that’s done, run the “Needle Drop” script to choose how many seconds of each track to play. The length of time will depend on your Internet connection, but between 5-10 seconds should suffice. If you pause iTunes at any stage you’ll need to run Needle Drop again or iTunes will go back to playing complete tracks.

add lyrics to itunes library

Now, this will cruise through your playlist and do its best to get lyrics for your tracks. Don’t forget that if your tracks are too obscure, it’s probably not going to find anything. You might want to stick the computer on mute so you don’t go crazy, too. If you get bored or need to stop the process for some reason, it’s easy to do this again later. Just delete the “No Lyrics” playlist and recreate it with the previous steps. Simple!

Adding iTunes Lyrics Manually

If these options haven’t worked or if you’d prefer to use different lyrics for a few songs, you can always change the lyrics the manual way. Just right-click on the track in iTunes, click on “Get Info” followed by the “Lyrics” tab and edit the information.

itunes lyrics

Add Other Information To Lyrics

Another neat idea for the lyrics field is to add liner notes. This is especially good for classical music as you can add details of the performance, the history of the work and other relevant information. The iPod will cut off the text at about 24,800 characters, but the information will still be in iTunes.

More iTunes Tips

If you use iTunes as much as we do, these tips might also come in handy:

  • 10 Top iTunes Troubleshooting Tips & Tricks
  • How To Automatically Import Downloaded Music To iTunes [Mac]
  • The BIG Book of iTunes [Free PDF Download]
  • How To Create A US iTunes Account (& Access US-Only Contents) Without A Credit Card
  • Two Simple Ways To Disable Ping In iTunes [Mac & Windows]
  • Get Rid Of Vertical Window Controls In iTunes [Mac]
  • How To Organize Your iTunes Collection With TidySongs

Which method do you use to get lyrics into iTunes? Let us know in the comments!

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